The cookie-free future is coming closer, this is no breaking news. Starting with Apple’s Tracking Transparency Tool, which was introduced with IOS 14.5 in 2021, the way platforms like Google and Facebook have been tracking users was massively limited. Before Apple had already implemented a major update to its Safari Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) that basically limits the usage of third-party cookies in the Safari browser.
Safari already has a 43.6% US market share, nearly tied with Google’s Chrome browser, which is currently the leading US browser with 46.12% market share. After Google had postponed tracking limitations in their browser multiple times, it seems like the time has finally come in 2024. The new IOS 17 and MacOS Sonoma update coming this fall, even has a new function limiting the usage of UTM codes.
For publishers, this means that the time to act is now. With the prospect that by H2 of 2024, close to 90% of users cannot be tracked anymore puts huge pressure on publishers and creates a need to develop first-party audience. Audience segments are an essential element for advertisers to reach the right target users. If publishers cannot offer the right solution to their advertisers, they will inevitably look somewhere else for solutions to create the right return on ad spend.
A case from Europe – JFM
In Europe, these changes were fuelled further by the introduction of GDPR in 2018, which requires users to opt-in the usage of cookies when opening a website.
JFM, Denmark’s second-largest publisher, recognized the need for a first-party data solution early. Seeing a continuous drop in cookie consent and third-party cookie accuracy, they needed a new solution to be able to provide data-driven audience segments to their advertisers.
In their development, a crucial element was that users did not need to opt into cookies. This would ensure a high acceptance rate for users and the accuracy of the model.
Building a cookie-free solution with Nexta
To solve this issue, JFM partnered up with Nexta. The two companies have a long history of partnership, having co-developed Nexta’s omnichannel advertising platform that decreases the cost of sales and improves campaign performance.
Building on Nexta’s AI knowledge and JFMs user data, the solution intended to create an AI model that can predict the user’s age, gender, and interests. Based on such, relevant ads will be shown to the user. The solution combines existing registered user data, external non-cookie data, and semi-supervised machine learning to classify existing and new users. Following, audiences are created based on the model and can be selected by advertisers when booking campaigns directly or through DSPs.
The project is a huge success. First tests show an accuracy of around 90% of the created segments compared to buying segments via third-party data providers. This is a substantial improvement over the third-party cookie which on average has an accuracy of 40-60% as shown by Gartner.
Making the cookie-free world your USP
Based on the success, JFM is expected to make the new audiences available to their advertisers and agencies in Q4 of 2023. By having this solution in place, JFM is a first mover in the Danish market and has turned the thread posed by Apple and Google’s changes into a USP compared to other local and national publishers.